By Morgan Montalvo
Bexar County’s electorate did not let rain or chilly temperatures deter them from turning out in near-record numbers for first-day early voting for this year’s midterm elections, WOAI reports.
At the close of Day One of early voting, more than 34,000 voters had cast their ballots at the county’s 43 early voting sites.
On the first day of local early voting in the 2014 midterms about 13,000 votes were counted, and in the 2016 presidential elections, approximately 35,000 voters turned out to electronically place a check in their boxes of choice, says Bexar County Elections Administrator Jacque Callanen.
“We should be celebrating these turnouts, we should be celebrating the lines, because it means voters are finally engaged,” Callanen says.
She says problems were reported at three sites, and none were related to voting machines.
An early delay at the Las Palmas site on San Antonio’s southwest side, for example, was caused by a malfunctioning printer that forced election workers to write in voter’s names by hand on confirmation documents, rather than print out a label with voter information.
She says most complaints were related to the amount of time people had to wait in line - a by-product of election enthusiasm.
Callanen recommends logging on to the Bexar County Elections Dept. website or Facebook page to find the nearest early polling location, or to see where voter foot-traffic is the lightest.
“That way the voters will feel a little bit better where they can make up their mind to maybe drive ten minutes farther to just be able to walk in and out,” says Callanen.
But Congressman Joaquin Castro (D-San Antonio) and State Sen. Jose Menendez (D-San Antonio) say its more than enthusiastic voters. They blame antiquated equipment and inadequate staffing.
"“By all accounts, of both poll workers here, of campaign workers, and also others, that slowed down the process. And many people who showed up to vote left because they had to get back to work. Or they came here very early in the morning, they had to run off to work," Castro said.
He also called Bexar County's election machines 'among the most antiquated in the country' and said "Before we invest in another study on a soccer team or a football team, or landing a baseball team, we need to make sure that we invest in updating our voting machines."
Early voting runs through Friday, Nov 2. The midterm general election is the following Tuesday, Nov. 6. For a list of early voting sites and to see where early voting is lightest, log on to:
PHOTO: At 6 p.m. Monday the line outside San Antonio's Brook Hollow Public Library on the city's north side numbered about 50 voters waiting in the rain to cast their early ballots for the 2018 midterm races. The total at the Brook Hollow voting site was well in excess of 1,500 by the time the polls closed an hour later. More than 34,000 Bexar County residents cast their ballots on Monday, the first day to vote early.
Photos by Morgan Montalvo